Remake Learning Days is a good way to shine a light on the importance of diversity in communities that may not have many minority residents. And the festival welcomes everyone to embrace creative, hands-on learning.
“It’s our way of increasing diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging within our student and staff populations by engaging underserved people and groups within our community in new and creative ways,” said Boyd Hestand, grant specialist at Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Knoxville.
Tennessee will, once again, host Remake Learning Days. There are more than 120 events planned in 13 different counties during May 13-21. Last year, there were 52 events in the state. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted attendance, too. Although more than 600 people attended, it was “lower participation than we’d seen in the past,” said Hestand.
“This year, we are going to have more than 1,000 middle- and high-school students attending our events.”
May 13 alone will feature 25 events at the Tennessee College of Applied Technology campus in Anderson County, and 800 school students will participate that day, Hestand said.
The organizations that participate in Tennessee’s Remake Learning Days “love the hand-on based training,” Hestand said.
Tennessee College of Applied Technology is a vocational and technical school, and “Remake Learning Days is part of that continuum for us,” he said. “It’s about community outreach and engagement, and letting the community we serve know about technical education and hands-on learning opportunities.”
The event also allows businesses to engage with local families in a new way. “If you are an HVAC business, it can be difficult to engage families,” Hestand said. “All the employers and partners we engage with, it means a lot to them to connect with kids and families during Remake Learning Days.”
Remake Learning Days in Tennessee are designed to help and engage families. Some of the events include:
- Where the Rubber Meets the Road is an event where students will learn how to measure tread depth with a penny on semi-truck tires.
- The Air We Share event welcomes students collect and examine particles in the air and discuss filtration technology.
- During Find Your Blindspot, students can discover blind spots of semi-trucks from the driver’s seat.
- The Lemon Battery event will help students will learn the basics of battery technology, and how to create a battery out of common items.
- Drawing for Kids will invite participants to combine common vocabulary words with drawing skills to make unique drawings.
- Do Elephants Brush Their Teeth? is a chemistry demonstration about the reactivity of chemicals.
Many of the events are hands-on experiences, which Hestand believes are crucial.
“We are still a society teaching like the Greeks did over a thousand years ago with lecture-style,” he said. “Hands-on learning is more in line with mentoring people and teaching them, say, blacksmithing, or, a modern example of that would be carpentry. A large majority of people, when they get their hands on something, it’s more about gaining wisdom on how to do something than just having knowledge.”
He said while college enrollment has declined, attendance at his school, which is mostly hands-on training, saw an increase. “The difference there is because our programs lead directly to a job,” he said. During the pandemic, the school boasted an 83 percent placement rate for students in the field of study. Usually, it’s over 90 percent, he said.
This is Tennessee’s fourth year hosting Remake Learning Days, and Hestand hopes it goes a long way in helping people who are underserved.
“Our community is not very diverse, and it’s difficult to find groups of underserved people who are easily accessible,” he said. “As a society, how you serve individuals who are marginalized or disadvantaged shows the level of caring and concern you have for your community.”
Hestand also hopes Remake Learning Days help spark the imagination of children in the area.
“What we hope to do is broaden the box of our community so that they have opportunities for the light bulb to go off, and them to think, ‘Hey, I like this and I can do this for a career’ — those a-ha moments in education. And without exposure, those happen less frequently.”
For more information about Remake Learning Days in Knoxville, click here.